There is a beat that surrounds me. It is the bass at a nearby bar, Cheers, “Where everyone knows your name.” Sounds familiar right? There is also a Murphy’s Pub downstairs. The music is a constant rhythm that I fall asleep to each night. It’s not loud and obnoxious, it’s just there. It’s like this city. It’s bustling, beautiful, and constant. I think that’s one of the many reasons I like it so much so far. It isn’t a high-rise city where the sky and the natural world gets lost. It’s a small city. A city where trees are present, the surrounding hills are lush and green and the buildings don’t block out the sun, clouds, and beautiful blue skies. There is a feeling of openness in the streets from the amalgamation of the culture, the structures, and the people…and possibly the low number of cars in our area.
I would love to find decaffeinated coffee or kafa bez kofeina. I do miss it. And I get wary and silly looks for even suggesting the existence of kafa bez kofeina. What a silly American. I can find Americano bez kofeina at the nearby fancy hotel, Hotel Europe, which I take advantage of when my friends partake in the beautiful desserts they offer. There is an open-air market very close to my internship where I have found the most glorious fresh foods that are clearly more natural than what we find in grocery stores back home. The blueberries are tiny and come still attached to branches, as do the cherries and other fruit. And everything has such flavor here. The tomatoes taste as if they just came off an organic plant – food just tastes different here, even when it is food we are accustomed to back home.
Last night I decided to make a salad with my purchases of the day and to make some pesto pasta. Upon arriving in the kitchen, I found our hostel owner, Sead (say-odd), in the kitchen preparing their Iftar (if-tar) meal of delicious smelling soup. He is a lovely man who asks about my day, holds my hand as we chat, and has been helpful in settling in here. He gave me a cooking lesson and then sent me to the dining table with a bowl of his homemade soup and an order to stay put. He brought me my dinner after cooking it entirely! What a treat. He shared their meal with most of us last night with a smile and a gentle pat on the back. And upon going to the kitchen to do my dishes, was ushered out as Hasan (ha-sawn – the owners nephew) took my dirty dishes from me. Naida (niy-ee-da), Sead’s wife, waves us out of the kitchen often and together they take care of all of our necessities: laundry, available fresh fruit, breakfast, toilet paper in the bathrooms, clean sheets and towels, procuring cell phones, encouraging smiles, the list goes on and on.
Yesterday I did a little recon to find out what color the decaf Nescafe (instant coffee is what we drink here) is. And in my specialty store where I find my gluten-free/egg-free foods, I found it!
We were also invited to join our hosts for their Iftar last night, what a special treat. They had been fasting all day and still insisted upon serving us first. There is always a bit of guilt and a need to jump up to help – I think they find it sweet and rude if we insist. It was a multiple course dinner. We started with more of the delicious soup, followed by a traditional egg and four kinds of cream dish (I didn’t partake in this due to an intolerance to egg), then we had a beef and mushroom dish, with an onion cream and tomato dish, then a “pita” dish (fillo filled with beef, cheese, or spinach), and finally a dessert that must have taken all day to prepare with layers of cake, custard, jello, and fruit. What a feast! It was an almost three hour dinner with friends, food, and delightful conversation.
And we learned more about the superstitions here: breezes are deadly to your nervous system, sitting upon cold surfaces in months with an “r” in it will freeze your ovaries, and sitting at the corner of a table is an omen you won’t get married. There are others but these are the ones we discussed last night. Tonight it’s off to meet a reporter who Katie is working with. I can’t wait!